JOHN GEORGE FRIEND
1868 – 1959

 

HANNAH MARGARET FRIEND
1873 - 1941

 

John George Friend was a native son of Putnam County, Indiana, born in Greencastle on November 25, 1868 to German immigrant parents, Joseph Edward and Ernestine Friend (Americanized from ‘Freund’). The family home was located across the Monon tracks on North Madison Street, and in his eagerness to get there John often resorted to scrambling over trains stopped at the station and blocking the street. One day as he was climbing impatiently over a train, it began to move and John held on for dear life all the way to Bainbridge. Afterwards all someone had to say was, ‘Toottoot to Bainbridge!’ and John’s temper would flare.

John and Hannah Margaret Arthur were married on August 17, 1897. They lived in a small house on Indiana Street (where the DePauw University gym is now located) with their two sons, who were born exactly ten years apart. John Arthur (Johnny) was born on November 9, 1898 and George Edward was born on November 9, 1908.

Much information for this history came from Julia Margaret (Judy) Friend Albin Johnson, the eldest of John’s three grandchildren. The daughter of John Arthur (Johnny) and Maude Friend, Judy was born on December 4, 1925. After her grandparents moved from Indiana Street to the country, Judy recalls riding her bicycle from her home on West Hannah Street to their farm on the Manhattan Road. There were so few houses along the road in those days that the post office did not deliver mail. Instead it was left in two large boxes at Hammond’s several miles down the road, where residents picked it up. Judy remembers playing with her father’s old toys in her grandparents’ unfinished attic until she discovered snakes hiding there.

Judy has fond memories of her grandmother Hannah, who died when Judy was sixteen. “Grandma made her own dresses, wore her hair wrapped around in back, and took care of the house. The three grandchildren – Joe, Dick and I – loved to go there for meals.

All three of us wanted the chicken drumsticks, and it was years before I realized a chicken didn’t have three legs because "Grandma always fixed three.”

John’s son George used draft horses to till the small field where they raised corn for the chickens. John and Hannah always put in a prolific garden and Judy helped with the canning. She remembers picking blackberries to make jam.

John and Hannah’s youngest grandchild, Joseph Edward (Joe) Friend, the son of George Edward and Esther Katherine Whitaker Friend, was born on February 18, 1939. Joe does not remember his grandmother Hannah, but vividly recalls wandering through the wooded area that became Camp Friend with his grampa and older brother George Richard (Dick) – 12/7/1935 to 7/15/1999. Joe shared memories: “It was in exploring the land that became Camp Friend that Grampa instilled in Dick and me a love for the outdoors, nature and the environment. We knew those woods so well that we darn near had all the trees named.

Many of our 4-H projects were carried out there, including tree identification, tree ring growth studies and estimating the number of board feet of timber available for harvest. In large part these experiences led Dick to study forestry at Purdue and me to pursue a career in geology at DePauw. I still have some geodes and fossils that we collected in the stream beds.”

Joe laughed as he said, “At Halloween we’d throw corn at Grampa’s windows, and he’d fire his shotgun into the air. When Dick and I were little, he’d go with us to catch bluegills - some as big as four inches - in the swimming hole on the back road to the state farm. He’d help us clean them, and Mother would fix them for dinner along with whatever else we were having. We trapped muskrats and raccoons on Grampa’s property, and he showed us how to skin them and mount the hides that we’d cure and sell.”

John taught his grandchildren to make cider in an old hand-cranked cider press from apples picked in the orchard south of the house. Joe and Judy remember a wind-up phonograph player in the living room that provided much entertainment.

A pump organ resided in the bedroom at the farm, there being no room for it anywhere else in the house. John gave the organ to the old Bethel log cabin chapel which was located on the Gobin United Methodist Church property in Greencastle. The log cabin has now been moved to a Methodist camp in the southern part of the state.

John is described as being taller than either of his sons, with a bushy mustache and full head of hair. Both Judy and Joe used words such as ‘docile’ and ‘easy-going’ as they remembered their grandfather, although they acknowledged that he possessed a temper. His mobility was somewhat restricted by a bum leg, the result of a childhood accident.

An Inter-Urban train line that connected Terre Haute with Indianapolis, stopping in small towns along the way, ran along the back of John and Hannah’s farm. Trains came into Greencastle on tracks laid behind the houses on Jackson Street, stopped at the station located where Walden Inn now sits, then continued up Seminary Street past the DePauw President’s home and on to Fillmore and Coatsville.

Joe and Judy said that neither of their grandparents ever drove, relying on George to take them to the Methodist Church in Putnamville, the grocery in Greencastle, and other places they needed to go. In his later years John often rode a Trailways bus to Greencastle, where he belonged to the Odd Fellows Lodge. He’d sit on a bench in the front yard of his farmhouse until he heard the bus approaching, then he’d wave and it would stop for him.

John and his son George worked as gardeners for a number of Greencastle families, among them the Barnaby family, which owned a lumber yard and sawmill. Mr. and Mrs. Barnaby contributed generously to the community, were highly-respected, and most likely inspired and encouraged John to donate the wooded acreage that became known as ‘Camp Friend.’ Bequeathing the land was an idea that grew over the years as John spent time with his grandchildren in the woods and observed how much Judy, Dick and Joe were involved in and benefited from their 4-H experiences. John wanted all youth in Putnam County to appreciate the outdoors and have the opportunity to enjoy nature.

In March 1951, when he was 83-years-old, John George Friend donated 51.5 acres of wooded land, which comprised the majority of his property, “for the benefit of the youth of Putnam County.” Subsequently Putnam Friend of Youth Foundation was established to manage what became ‘Camp Friend.’

At that time John had been a widower for nearly ten years and had moved across the Manhattan Road to make his home with George, Esther and their sons. Joe remembers that his grampa came to live at their house the year that his Uncle Wayne Whitaker (his mother’s brother) came from Ann Arbor to help dig the ditch and run the line for indoor plumbing. George worked at the cement plant in Limedale and Esther was an elementary teacher. John’s house and remaining property were sold a few years later.

John George Friend died on March 8, 1959 at the age of 90 and is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery next to Hannah. His descendants have heard wonderful stories about Camp Friend, have enjoyed tramping through the woods, and are pleased that funding from the sale of that land will continue to further John George Friend’s dream for the youth of Putnam County through the Friend Family 4-H Junior Leader Scholarship Endowment and the John and Hannah Friend Family Endowment for the Environment.

Suzanne Friend (Mrs. Joseph E.)
November, 2008

Camp Friend Heritage

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